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Student’s mohawk at the center of heated debate

By Tracey Leong, tleong@krcrtv.com
Published On: Nov 14 2013 02:40:05 AM CST
 Student’s mohawk at the center of heated debate
REDDING, Calif. -

U-Prep superintendent and principal stands firm on the dress code ban on mohawks.

Elijah Astin and his parents tried to get the U-Prep School Board to change their dress code policy, complaining it was unreasonable. But Tuesday night the board didn’t budge.   

“Our name is University Preparatory School and that’s not just our name it’s our mission so everything we do aligns towards that mission,” said superintendent and principal Kathy Malain.

Malain is one of U-Prep’s founding members, for the past ten years she has served as the superintendent and principal. Part of that mission is enforcing a strict dress code. On page 19 of the school handbook it says “students may not wear their hair in a “mohawk” or similar style except on designated spirit days.”

“As parents we are asking that you uphold it and as students we’re asking you to respect it,” said Malain, “we dress for business and we expect the students to do that during the day and we don’t want to waste class time or have any distraction.”

Parents had mixed reviews on the school’s philosophy.

“It appears that all the kids are very clean cut here and they always look very nice and I think if that’s in the policy and they should have to abide by that rule,” said U-Prep parent Cynthia Gannon.

“Everybody is so unique today and the way they dress and do things and I say as long as it’s not unkind to others and doesn’t cause a problem I don’t have an issue with it,” said U-Prep parent David Tate.

With close to a thousand students grades 6 through 12, Malain said the charter school’s focus is preparing them for college. Those who oppose their values can leave.

“There are lots of schools here and you can be expressive in different schools and that isn’t one of them at our school,” said Malain.

Elijah Astin has until Thanksgiving break to change his Mohawk hairstyle or face disciplinary actions. His parents, Jolena and Mike Astin plan to keep fighting until the ban is removed.